The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently released a status update regarding railroads’ self-reported progress toward full implementation of positive train control (PTC) systems as of the end of 2018.
All required railroads either met the December 31, 2018, deadline for fully implementing PTC systems, or submitted requests demonstrating they met or exceeded the statutory criteria for an alternative schedule which would permit up to two additional years to complete full implementation.
Based upon the latest self-reported data from the end of last year, four railroads have fully implemented PTC systems on their required main lines, while the rest subject to PTC mandate satisfied the six statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an extension. Notably, Quarter 4 data also show PTC systems are in operation on almost 46,000 of the nearly 58,000 route miles where the technology systems must be deployed, and PTC systems are in revenue service demonstration on an additional 288 route miles.
By the end of 2018, all necessary PTC system hardware had been installed, radio spectrum acquired, employees trained, and testing initiated. The key remaining steps for full implementation include conducting revenue service demonstration (advanced testing on the general rail system), submitting a PTC Safety Plan and obtaining PTC System Certification from FRA, achieving interoperability between host railroads and tenant railroads, and activating the PTC system so it governs all operations on the required main lines.
As of December 31, 2018, host railroads’ operations are governed by a PTC system on 83% of the freight railroad route miles subject to the mandate and 30% of the required passenger railroad route miles. Of approximately 233 host-tenant railroad relationships, 16% have reportedly achieved PTC system interoperability as of the end of last year, which means the locomotives of a host railroad and a tenant railroad operating on the same main line can communicate with and respond to the PTC system, including uninterrupted movements over property boundaries. In addition, FRA has conditionally certified 12 host railroads’ PTC systems, based on their PTC Safety Plans; two PTC Safety Plans are currently under review; and 23 additional PTC Safety Plans must be submitted by June 2020.
Source: Federal Railroad Administration